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This image shows the magnetic field lines of a planet passing by a moon and creating a wake.
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J. Linker

Wake

A moon which is inside a magnetosphere usually travels slower than the magnetic field. This means that the magnetic field lines will pass over the satellite like water going around a rock. Because the moon is made of conducting material, the magnetic field will be delayed in passing around the moon. Thus the field lines will be distorted in passing over the satellite. Eventually they straighten up. The region upstream of the satellite, in the magnetic field of the planet, is called a satellite wake.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF